Healthwatch Gloucestershire has found that a lack of urgent NHS dental care in the county is a cause of growing public concern, with over a quarter of all enquiries between July and September from local people who have had difficulties getting to see a dentist.
This includes people in extreme pain whose health has been put at risk, with delays in dental care leading to serious complications and emergency hospital treatment. Read Susan’s story…
Common concerns raised with Healthwatch Gloucestershire
People have been telling Healthwatch Gloucestershire that that they cannot find an NHS dentist in the county, for urgent or routine appointments. Some have ongoing pain and unresolved dental issues because they have not been able to get treatment though the emergency dental hubs or through an NHS dentist; and delays have caused significant pain, inconvenience and worsening dental problems requiring further treatment.
Following the spike in enquiries about dentistry, Healthwatch Gloucestershire wanted to understand more about local provision, so they called every dental practice in Gloucestershire in a mystery shopping exercise.
- Only three dental practices were able to provide urgent dental treatment.
- 10 dental practices were unreachable (three attempts were made).
- 14% accurately and helpful referred the call to the Gloucestershire Dental Access Centre.
- 40% of calls were under 30 seconds, and harsh in tone.
- 10% were very keen to register private patients.
- 53% said waiting lists were not open.
- 25% said they did not know when waiting lists would reopen.
- 12% said their waiting lists were longer than six months.
Helen Webb, Healthwatch Gloucestershire Manager, said: “Healthwatch Gloucestershire has been tracking the impact of Covid-19 on health and care services in the county, and we have found that dentistry is an area of real concern for local people. While we understand the challenges of delivering health and social care during the pandemic, we have an important role to play helping local NHS providers understand where services are not working well. This enables them to improve care for local people and to use their resources effectively.
“Healthwatch Gloucestershire is recommending that NHS commissioners and dental care providers address the lack of urgent dental care in the county and we are calling on local dental services to provide better information about how people can get the treatment they need.”
You can share your experiences and feedback about local health and social care services by contacting Healthwatch Gloucestershire on 0800 6525193, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online form at healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk.